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Whatever type of camera phone is used, the merit of the pictures is determined more by the photographer than the technology. Obviously it helps to have a high-resolution camera with a good-quality lens, but the images will be of no value beyond personal interest if the photographer does not know how to capture worthwhile images. However, don't forget to set the camera to its highest resolution. The difference will not be apparent on the small screen on the mobile phone, but it will be very noticeable when the image is downloaded onto a computer.

As with any photography, it is important that photographers knows the capabilities of their cameras and that they have sufficient familiarity with the various settings to be able to use the instrument quickly. If this is not the case, the vital moment may be missed. Some camera phones have special effects settings which allow users to take monochrome or sepia images. Learn how this is done so that the facility can be used when appropriate.

The basic rules for getting the best from camera-phone images are the same as those for using any camera. It pays to get as close as possible to subjects so that the screen is filled with interest and detail. Some mobile phone cameras do not have zoom lenses, so getting close may mean using one's feet. Once in position, try a number of different angles and think about where the light is coming from. Also, try to get as much light as possible on to the subject as this will show up the colours and detail to best advantage. Learning to see the shadows on a subject is important. It is also worth taking lots of images because this increases the chances of getting a good one. In the age of digital capture this costs nothing to do, and the poor ones can easily be deleted at a later time.

When photographing people it is important to hold the camera somewhere around eye level. It is from this height that we see other people, and we are therefore more likely to feel comfortable with images taken in this way. When photographing small children or animals, it is usually better to get the camera down to their level. It is also important to realize that not everyone enjoys being photographed. Ask permission before photographing strangers, and observe restrictions on the use of mobile phone cameras in theatres and cinemas, and in other private or sensitive areas. Airports and military bases are example where restrictions may apply.

It is always worth considering the nature of the background in any image. Many inexperienced photographers see only the subject they are photographing, and are surprised when they see the photograph to find a distracting object in the background. Where possible, choose a plain background which will not be noticed by viewers. Their attention will then be focused on the subject of the image. The nature of backgrounds can often be changed significantly merely by taking a step in the appropriate direction.

Remember that the mobile phone camera can be turned on its side to change the format of the picture. Vertical format often works well when photographing people. For some subjects, it may also prove effective to rotate the camera to a jaunty angle to capture a less formal or amusing shot. Don't be afraid to hold the camera up high or down low if that is appropriate to the subject.

Finally, remember the limitations of camera phones in terms of resolution and picture quality. Good as they are, mobile phone cameras are not as good as digital compacts or SLRs, so take a dedicated film or digital camera to be sure of getting the best images possible. Once the pictures have been captured, be sure to transfer them to a computer to they are not accidentally lost or deleted.


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